Friday, July 09, 2010

Lex Luger : Where Did It All Go Wrong?

I had kept meaning to write something about Lex Luger but, every time I was thinking of a topic, he was always far away from my mind.

Until now.

Luger was the shining example of an '80s wrestler. He had the muscular looks and an average to terrible work-rate. A lot of his matches were the pits. There are always exceptions but it had more to do with who his opponent was than anything else.

In recent years, Lex Luger is a shell of his former self having spent years confined to a wheelchair and now in use of a walking stick.

Gone is the larger than life frame. What is left is a down on his luck human being.

I heard a radio interview with him a number of months ago and I found him to be a very humble person who has now found God and realises the mistakes he had made through his life.

Luger, you see, had a reputation for being a prima donna during his times in WCW and the then WWF.

Arrests, the death of his girlfriend Miss Elizabeth and other things in the 21st Century have brought him down to levels where he could be classed as the real-life version of Mickey Rourke's Randy 'The Ram'.

And then some.

Luger was supposed to be the 'Next Hulk Hogan'. Wrestling magazines would tout this throughout the latter part of the 1980s all the way through the 1990s.

The closest he came to being the successor came in 1993 when he was pushed to the moon by Vince McMahon's promotion machine in the build up to that year's SummerSlam where he went on a publicity tour throughout America on board a bus titled The Lex Express.

The hype was big all summer long for the new American hero as he was making a bid to unseat the WWF champion, Yokozuna.

And then the event came along and Luger won.

Via count-out.

As a lot of fans will realise, titles can never be won in this manner so the glorious moment of seeing Luger raise the WWF title fell by the wayside.

It's incredible to think about all that promotion they put behind the star only to have his legs pulled out from under him at the moment where they should have put the strap on him.

With WrestleMania X taking place the following year, it's conceivable to believe that the original idea was for him to chase the belt all the way to the more marquee event. The fans weren't buying it, however.

Luger's opportunity had been and gone - they wanted Bret Hart to reclaim the belt.

And so he did.

Luger went on to wrestle in the midcards and eventually left WWF in the autumn of 1995 when he made his debut on the first ever WCW Monday Nitro only twenty-four hours after wrestling for the WWF. The reason why he was able to jump ship with no notice was because he had been working without a valid contract.

After the surprise appearance, he was the name of the industry yet again.

It didn't last, though.

Luger was back to being in upper midcard positions on the wrestling cards and only seeing occasional main events and world title victories.

I often wonder what would have happened had he won that belt at SummerSlam '93. I was a young teenager at the time and I too felt letdown at the close of that match.

If he had won that title, he would have been the standard bearer for years to come and it's hard not to wonder whether fate would have dealt him such bad cards later in his life.

Of course, we'll never know the answer but the fall of Lex Luger - as far as I can see - began the moment he was denied the opportunity to be the top guy in the WWF and, more importantly, the next Hulk Hogan.

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